BlogPrelude to the BMW Championship

BMW Championship

August 27th – 30th, 2020

Olympia Fields C.C. (North)

Olympia Fields, Il.

Par: 70 / Yardage: 7,366

Purse: $9.5 million

with $1,710,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Justin Thomas

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:

Confusing signs from the players as the second leg of playoffs begin.

So is anyone as shocked at the results of the Northern Trust as I was? When TPC Boston use to be the second leg of the playoffs, we always could tell who would play well, those that either drove it long or putting well. These were universal rules that we put into effect for his week’s Northern Trust played at TPC Boston. As for the winner, nothing shocking about Dustin Johnson other than he had never won before at TPC Boston, but we have seen him play well since his stumble at Memorial and the 3M Open. He just wasn’t able to close the deal at the PGA Championship but he put it all together in four rounds at TPC Boston to shot 30 under par and win by a whopping 11 shots over Harris English. It doesn’t matter if Johnson feel a shot short of the PGA Tour record for most strokes under par in a 72-hole event (-31/Ernie Els/2003 Sentry Tournament of Champions) or his 254 total was a shot short of the all-time PGA Tour score for a low 72-hole score (253/Justin Thomas/2017 Sony Open in Hawaii). Now Johnson’s 11 shot margin of victory was the first double-digit margin of victory since Brian Gary was the 2009 Verizon Heritage by 11 shots and the last time a margin of victory was this high was at the 2006 BellSouth Classic when Phil Mickelson won by 13 shots. In 272 previous PGA Tour events, Johnson’s lowest 72 hole total was 261 at the 2018 FedEx St. Jude Classic and last month’s Travelers Championship so Johnson shattered his personal record. There are two ways of looking at such a massive outing, first, after playing well since withdrawing at the 3M Open, Johnson was finally able to put everything together in this one massive onslaught. Johnson hit 65 greens at TPC Boston, which is his personal best for 72 holes, previously he hit 61 greens at the 2014 WGC-HSBC Champions and the 2017 Sentry Tournament of Champions. Showing how great of a week he had, Johnson’s biggest greens hit weeks came at the 2009 Bob Hope when he hit 65 greens and then the 2010 Bob Hope when he hit 70 greens, but both of those events were over 90 holes. Johnson played the four par 3s at TPC Boston in 6 under par, which is the second-best of his career the best being 7 under at the 2014 AT&T Byron Nelson. Johnson played the 11 par 4s at TPC Boston in 12 under par which is two shots off his best of 14 under at the 2020 Travelers Championship. Johnson played the 3 par 5s at TPC Boston in 12 under which is the best he had ever done on a course with just three par 5s (best was 12 under at the 2020 RBC Heritage). Secondly, the question is, could this be just the peak of great play and after this week goes back to normal? Or could he continue the run and do the same at the BMW Championship and then the Tour Championship? The later is probably the correct answer because historically when Johnson gets into the groove he pretty much stays in the groove for a bit. So he will rightly so be the big favorite at Olympia Fields, which holds the BMW Championship this week.

The overall question to ask is if Dustin Johnson did so well, what happened to everyone else? Justin Thomas was #1 in the FedExCup race going into the Northern Trust and after shooting rounds of 68-67 shot 71-71 over the weekend and finished T-49th. PGA Champion Collin Morikawa who was 2nd in the FedExCup standings missed the cut along with Bryson DeChambeau (was 4th in the FedEx went to 7th), Sungae Im (was 5th in the FedEx went to 8th), Abraham Ancer (was 13th in the FedEx went to 19th), Marc Leishman (was 14th in the FedEx went to 20th), Cameron Champ (was 20th in FedEx went to 25th), Tony Finau (was 23rd in FedEx went to 29th), Billy Horschel (was 25th in FedEx went to 30th), Joaquin Niemann (was 26th in the FedEx went to 31st), Patrick Cantlay (was 32nd in the FedEx went to 37th), Gary Woodland (was 33rd in the FedEx went to 29th) and Jason Day (was 45th in the FedEx went to 50th). Things were so bad that even Phil Mickelson, who since the inception of the FedExCup in 2007 has played in every BMW Championship will not play it for the first time as he also missed the cut and went from 67th to 75th in the FedExCup standings. Instead of Chicago, Phil will play in his first Senior event in Missouri.

Other players who made the cut but didn’t play well included Matthew Wolff who finished T-44th, Patrick Reed, and Paul Casey who finished T-49th along with Rickie Fowler but he ended his FedExCup race at 94th. Even worst Tiger Woods and Adam Scott will play at the BMW Championship after finishing T-58th but both have to play well to have a shot at the Tour Championship. Lastly, we have Rory McIlroy, who has now admitted he is lost with his game he finished T-65th and despite not having to worry about getting to Atlanta goes to the BMW Championship 12th in the FedExCup race.

There was a bit of good news, Harris English was 2nd, his best finish since finishing 2nd at Colonial in 2016 and moved up to 6th in the standings. Daniel Berger was 3rd and is 4th in the FedExCup race, Webb Simpson finished T-6th and is 3rd in the FedExCup, Jon Rahm also T-6th and is 9th in the FedExCup race and with his T-4th finish, Scottie Scheffler moved up to 14th in the FedExCup race. Along with Johnson, these five players will be those to watch at Olympia Fields this coming week.


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